CLEVELAND - Helping to bridge the gap for women in construction is something that those in the industry have said needs to happen for years, especially since the number has been decreasing since 2005.
So one local business owner is trying to change that by breaking the class ceiling wide open.
Traditionally, it’s a field dominated by men but one piece of drywall at a time, workers like Altenese Hankins said they want other women to know that they can still be them and do the grunt work, too.
“It’s like a freedom,” Hankins said who is currently carpentry apprentice. Most of all, she says the industry and the company she works for doesn’t stop her from being herself.
“I like to be the girly carpenter, I’ll come with my lip gloss I like to come with my pink hard hat,” she said. “Because I’m still a woman, but I’m a carpenter.”
That’s what made her a great candidate for the AKA construction team according to Ariane Kirkpatrick, the CEO of the construction company, The AKA Team.
“I realized that there were so many disparities, there were so many issues that did not allow women to have some of the same opportunities,” Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick decided to focus her construction company on hiring mostly African American female construction workers in and outside the office.
“We talk about that glass ceiling, we get to that glass ceiling, but you have to tear that wall down for us to achieve the success that we need as women,” she said.
It’s a unique approach, given women in construction only make up less than 10 percent of the industry, and the lack of cultural inclusion is something Kirkpatrick said she’s experienced firsthand, being that she was discouraged from entering the industry herself when she first started.
“Cultural insensitivity, is terrible, gender insensitivity is terrible,” said Kirkpatrick.